I tend to have a sixth sense when it comes to fussy eaters.
When someone tells me that, for instance, they don’t like seafood, their plight as an eater is automatically established. I know that the fussiness is strong in this one.
This not a fact, just a musing of mine own experiences.
And I say that to say, it also goes in the reverse with people offering what they DO like.
For example if someone says they do like seafood, I know that their palettes tend to operate differently. So when someone says they like seafood, I’ll let the seafood chit-chat simmer until I can broach the subjects of anchovies.
If they like said anchovies, I know I can usually push my toe just slightly deeper into their ocean.
Anchovies tend to be gateways for salty and briny items like olives and pickled nonsense.
These people are people I know I will get on with.
And so my sixth sense is triggered via food talk because knowing the gateways of what somebody does and doesn’t like then highlights my personal culinary do’s and don’ts with this person.
However, no matter how sure I am of someone’s palette, when it comes to getting someone to eat kimchi, I will reserve this offering for only those who I know for a fact will enjoy it.
I offered this to my boyfriend with an optimistic fork and I tell you now, even thogh his palette is quite experimental and varied, not even he was willing to have another forkful.
He’s not ready.
If you say ‘fermented cabbage’ to anybody who is not familiar with kimchi, you’re automatically getting a no thanks.
It’s very Modern Food Blogger of me to announce my love of kimchi because the two kind of go together these days. It was like food blogging and kale/avocado/chia seeds a few years ago, these things just happen in cycles, for shame.
But genuinely – kimchi is wonderful.
I won’t give you a lesson on kimchi purely because I am not qualified to be the teacher. I know nothing about it. I don’t even use a traditional method. I don’t even use Chinese cabbage like you’re supposed to (still trying to be a Kitchen Cowboy) but what you can trust here is that if you like your food super salty, super spicy and super umami – kimchi is something you will carry with you forevermore.
Think of it as sauerkraut but on a whole other level of gorgeousness. Yes it’s spicy and salty but that’s what keeps you crawling back for more.
You make a kimchi a few weeks in advance apparently and there’s a lot of opening, closing, stirring, burping, chilling, holding in a north facing wind, doing a tribal fire dance over it and then eating it in the first ray of Winter’s moon. I may have dramatised it slightly there, but there’s a lot of waiting around involved.
I cut that out and mine is done in about 3 or 4 days and there’s nothing except some jarring involved and I use a red cabbage because I always have some bloody left in the fridge.
I KNOW THIS DOESN’T MAKE IT A PROPER KIMCHI but it gives me the kimchi-ness that I need so that makes me happy.
With noodles, with rice, with eggs, on soups, with curries, from the jar with a fork… there is absolutely no bad way to eat kimchi so I always like to have a jar of it on the go for whenever I need it.
Or just go buy some. There. I said it.
Take a quarter of a head of red cabbage and slice it up as finally as you can. Throw into a bowl and tip in a good few tablespoons of salt.
Using your hands, scrunch up the red cabbage so that you press the salt into as much of the cabbage as you can.
Wash your hands and cover the bowl with a tea towel and leave it for an hour or so for the salt to draw as much water out of the cabbage as possibly. After the time is up, tip the cabbage into a sieve and rinse well with water from the tap.
Rinse out the bowl and fling the cabbage into it.
On a chopping board, grate a thumb sized pieced of ginger to a pump and follow this with grating up two or three garlic cloves. Add this to the red cabbage and follow it with two teaspoons of chilli powder, a tablespoon of soft brown sugar, a teaspoon of salt, a tablespoon of fish sauce (but take out if you want to keep it veggie) and 6 or 7 tablespoons of water.
Here you could also add some finely sliced radish and carrots which I often do but on occasion… like now… didn’t have any… sooo… cabbage it is…
Mix everything well – I just use my hands – and make sure the cabbage is thoroughly coated.
Spoon the cabbage into some sterilised jars, packing the cabbage down as best as you can so the liquid pushes up to the top of the jar to fully submerge the cabbage.
Cover the top of each jar with some cling film before clamping them shut.
Now leave them to ferment in your cupboards at room temperature for about 3 days. Try it after 3, you’ll find it is super salty and super sour and it’s good to go, but remember it will get better the longer you leave it.
Once you’re happy with the taste of it at room temperature, chuck it in the fridge and enjoy it with EVERYTHING.